After Tshokwane, we hit the road again! We still had much travel to do until reaching Orpen, where we would check-in for Tamboti. The next step was the Tshokwane-Satara Road (H1-3), where we saw: 1 male Kudu, 2 Yellow-Billed Kites flying (Milvus aegyptius
), 3 female Kudus, one big group of Impalas alongside with 1 Blue Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus
), 1 juvenile female Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio
), 2 European Rollers, 1 Southern Carmine Bee-Eater (Merops nubicoides
), 1 Magpie (African Longtailed) Shrike (Corvinella melanoleuca
), 1 African Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasutus
), 1 male Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus
), 4 White-Faced Ducks (Dendrocygna viduata
), 2 Ruffs (Philomachus pugnax
), 1 African Elephant, 6 Burchell’s Zebras, 1 swarm of African Openbill (Openbilled Stork) (Anastomus lamelligerus
), 4 (African) White-Backed Vultures (Gyps africanus
1 Bateleur flying (Terathopius ecaudatus
). It was a busy road!
The encounter with this male Kudu was almost a mystical experience. He stared us in the face and we could see with the closest possible eye how impressive are the ornaments in his face. He looked like an old wise guy, staring at us from the highness of his experience.
In full body, it is possible to see what an impressive male he was!
After reaching some conclusion about us, he simply moved away.
Later we found these gorgeous Kudu ladies, not so far away from the male, forming a small herd, as it is usual of female Kudus (males are mainly solitary). Look how charming one of the ladies was.
Kudus do not have a large distribution area in South Africa, as we can see in this distribution map: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=22054
Anyway, they have a large distribution in Africa and are not threatened, classified in the IUCN Red List as Least Concern with stable populations, differently from the Lesser Kudu (Tragephalus imberbis
), which is near threatened. This species is not found in southern Africa, however. Anyway, the Greater Kudu suffers the impact of habitat loss and hunting. Next time I go to South Africa I guess I will not eat Kudu again.
We also managed to photograph two Yellow-Billed Kites flying over the Tshokwane-Satara Road. Here is a picture of one of them. It was cropped from a more distant picture.
Unfortunately, this species was not accessed yet by the IUCN. In other sources, I found the information that it is not threatened, but this is not so reliable as the IUCN evaluation.
This species occurs across sub-Saharan Africa, and in southern Africa is common across a large part of the region, largely excluding the Karoo, Kahalari and Namibian Desert. It can be found in a wide variety of habitats, with a preference for woodland and rural areas (with large human populations). It is an intra-African breeding migrant. It arrives in southern Africa from August to October and departs in March.
Its feeding includes a wide variety of animals, including birds, rodents, lizards, frogs, fishes (only in shallow water), mollusks, crustaceans, and insects. It flies in the manner characteristic of kites, swiveling the tail horizontally to steer accurately. When a prey is spotted, it swoops to the ground rapidly to catch it.
The entirely yellow bill differentiates this bird from the Black Kite (Milvus migrans
). For a long time, these two kites were considered as belonging to the same species, but recent DNA studies suggested that the Yellow-billed Kite differs significantly from Black Kites and should be considered as a separate species (Jeff A. Johnson, Richard T. Watson and David P. Mindell (2005) Prioritizing species conservation: does the Cape Verde kite exist? Proc. R. Soc. B 272: 1365–1371). This paper illustrates how discussions about the species concept and the status of species are relevant for conservation. As the resources for conservation are limited, the decision to prioritize the conservation of a subspecies is very unlikely. Thus, to establish whether a given animal is truly a species or not becomes relevant for conservation. Nevertheless, the whole issue gets more complicated given the polemics around what are species. But this also makes the whole issue more interesting (for a discussion about this problem, see Sterelny, K. & Griffiths, P. 1999. Sex and Death: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Biology).
There are two subspecies of the Yellow-Billed Kite: M. a. parasitus
, found throughout most of the sub-Saharan Africa (including Madagascar), with the exception of the Congo Basin. This is the subspecies we saw in KNP. M. a. aegyptius
, in turn, is found in Egypt, southwest Arabia and the Somali peninsula.
As I told you, we could never get tired of European Roller for the first half of the trip. Pedro and Carol got tired eventually. Me never. Here is another one.
Even though they were so common in KNP, it is a pity to know that they are Near Threatened, with decreasing populations, as the IUCN Red List informs us. Most of the threats comes from pollution and hunting.
Here is the distribution of the European Roller: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=106001033
They come to Africa in the non-breeding season, in Summer in the South Hemisphere, while they breed in Europe and Asia (in Summer in the North Hemisphere).
To finish this posting, an African Grey Hornbill hidden in the foliage.
This is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. KNP is one of the few places in South Africa where we can find them: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=100600941
The subspecies we find in South Africa is T. n. epirhinus. Here are some recordings of their calls: http://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Tockus-nasutus
Quite nice calls!
I will send this posting now and come back later to continue with the Tshokwane-Satara Road.
1 June 2013 - Twee Rivieren
2 June 2013 - Kieliekrankie
3-4 June 2013 - Kalahari Tented Camp
5 June 2013 - Twee Rivieren
6-8 June 2013 - Nossob
9 June 2013 - Gharagab
10 June 2013 - Grootkolk
11 June 2013 - Nossob
12 June 2013 - Twee Rivieren